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Director removed over school band scandal

PATCHARAPONG Tri-tepha is being transferred from his post as director of Satriwitthaya 2 School in the wake of a scandal involving the school's marching band.

Sajja Srijarern, who heads Bangkok's Secondary Educational Service Area Office II, signed the transfer order yesterday with immediate effect. Patcharapong has until Friday tomorrow to report to Sajja's office to take up his new assignment.

"The transfer is necessary to facilitate investigation into the scandal," Sajja explained, adding that Patcharapong would be given his old job back if his name is cleared.

But Manop Kaew-ngarm, director of the Satriwitthaya 2 Alumni Association, said: "I don't think he can come back. I can tell you that parents and local people are unhappy with him and will protest if he returns."

Patcharapong plunged into hot water after some members of the school's marching band decided to camp out overnight at Ichitan Group chairman Tan Passakornnatee's business premises to pressure him into lending them Bt3.1 million so they could participate in a contest in the Netherlands. The band apparently spent the entire sum on the trip.

Also, a widely circulated audio clip reveals Patcharapong giving pointers to some band members on how to get funding before they headed for Tan's offices. Patcharapong has to date maintained that he never mentioned Tan's name during the discussion.

"No matter how the investigation concludes, Patcharapong should not return as director of the school again," alumni representative Kanninar Pattanaphiradej said yesterday.

She also accused him of being unethical and tainting the school's reputation.

At least 300 alumni have signed a petition seeking to have Patcharapong removed from the helm of Satriwitthaya 2 School.

Sajja said available information suggested that conflicts at the school would worsen if Patcharapong were not immediately removed.

"I have spoken to many students there and will be inviting the school's board, alumni, teachers and parents to provide information," he said, adding that Patcharapong would face a disciplinary probe if found guilty.


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